|Safety Pilot Model Deployment site plan. Source: UMTRI. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) today launched the largest-yet road test of connected vehicle crash avoidance technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Earlier post.) Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with connected Wi-Fi technology to enable vehicles and infrastructure to communicate with each other in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow will begin traversing Ann Arbor’s streets as part of the year-long safety pilot project.
Conducted by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the Safety Pilot Model Deployment is a first-of-its-kind test of connected vehicle technology in the real world. The test cars, trucks and buses, most of which have been supplied by volunteer participants, are equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices (collectively, V2X) that will gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes.
For the V2I portion of the program, 73 lane-miles of Ann Arbor roadway have been instrumented with 29 roadside-equipment installations. The transportation department selected the college town for the program due to its traffic mix, variety of roadway types and characteristics, seasonal weather and proximity to vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.
According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. The model deployment vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios including an impending collision at a blind intersection; a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot; or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead; among others.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety—but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world. NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment' as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.—NHTSA Administrator David Strickland
The model deployment is the second phase of DOT’s connected vehicle Safety Pilot, a major research initiative managed by NHTSA and the Research and Innovative Technologies Administration (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.
Earlier this year, DOT released data from a series of “driver acceptance clinics” conducted during the first phase of the Safety Pilot. The study revealed that an overwhelming majority of drivers (9 out of 10) who have experienced V2V technology have a highly favorable opinion of its safety benefits and would like to have V2V safety features on their personal vehicle. (Earlier post.)
The information collected from both phases of the Safety Pilot, and other key research projects, will be used by NHTSA to determine by 2013 whether to proceed with additional activities involving connected vehicle technology, including possible rulemaking.
Among the contributors to the projects are:
Denso. DENSO International America, Inc. (DIAM) is providing two types of dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) devices, which are the devices that allow vehicles to communicate with other equipped vehicles and infrastructure.
DENSO’s two DSRC devices being tested are 1) An integrated original equipment device used on light vehicles, and 2) An aftermarket retrofit device equipped on light vehicles, heavy trucks and buses.
DENSO has been working on V2X technology since 2003, with one of its main focuses being on DSRC devices. The DSRC’s primary function is to assess the surrounding environment based on accurate and precise data exchanges with other vehicle DSRC transceivers and roadside hotspots.The data exchanges include a vehicle’s location, velocity, acceleration and path history, which can enable on board computers to predict trajectories and reduce the likelihood of collisions. That same data, along with additional information from the traffic signal, can also help drivers avoid running red lights and prevent crashes at controlled intersections (roadside hotspots).
Ford. Ford is providing cars equipped with experimental vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology to collect data for the US test. Data collected will be used to evaluate the performance of various safety applications in use and help enhance future development of V2V communications. Consumer feedback for this new technology also will be analyzed.
Ford also is participating in field trials of other applications of this new technology in Germany and around Europe as part of a research program aimed at advancing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication on European roads to improve traffic safety and personal mobility. (Earlier post.)
GM. General Motors is providing eight V2V-equipped Buick and Cadillac cars. The V2V-equipped Buicks and Cadillacs will be joined by vehicles from partners in the Vehicle Safety Communications 3 Consortium, which is part of the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership. A large fleet that uses comparable aftermarket safety devices or simpler Vehicle Awareness Devices also will be involved.
Other automakers participating include Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen Group.